If you’re planning a visit to London you’ve probably heard this line before: London can be a pricey city. You’re sick of hearing it, we’re sick of saying it. It’s true to an extent but if you’re a canny traveller – and I have no doubt you are – then you can actually do London on a fairly tight budget. It’s about knowing where to go.
So here they are, five top tips for saving yourself a pretty penny when you visit the capital.
- Free Museums – All of the national museums in London are free. Which ones are they? Well, pretty much all of them. Some of the finest artefacts in the world can be found in the permanent exhibitions of these museums, and they’re there for you to view all the while not spending a penny. Some of the museums included in that list are The Natural History Museum, The V&A, The British Museum, The National Gallery and the Tate Galleries. There are donation boxes at the entrances and exits, so if you do choose to donate do so in the knowledge that you are keeping these institutions free for the next thrifty explorer following in your footsteps.
There will be special exhibitions that take place throughout the year which are well worth the visit, but these do tend to come with a price tag. Do your homework before you come to London and pick out one or two that really appeal to you. Check concessions as well as most will offer discounted student or senior rates.
- The Royal Parks – When you think of London you probably think of a metropolis, all winding roads, imposing glass architecture and chugging black cabs. But look beyond the towering buildings and you will see something altogether more sedate (sometimes). The Royal Parks(of which there are eight) are dotted around the centre of London and offer a bit of respite from the crowds. Hyde Park is probably the most famous, while Regents Park the prettiest. The very nature of, well, nature is that it’s free. So you won’t have to spend a penny while there.
Bring food and drink (alcohol is allowed) from outside to save yourself a small fortune by not buying anything from the cafes found within the park perimeters. But don’t forget to take your rubbish with you or put it in the bin. They’re places of beauty, best kept that way.
- TKTs booth – If you’re visiting London, in all likelihood you will pass through Leicester Square at some point. Have you noticed that weird booth with the large queue snaking from its window? Well there’s a reason that it’s so popular. Here you can get discount tickets to some of the West End’s most popular shows. Often for the very same day and sometimes up to seven days in advance. Tickets come from returned or unsold tickets that need to be shifted.
While you can’t be guaranteed to see the show you want, with a bit of flexibility you can certainly see something that you will enjoy. At, lest we forget, a fraction of the face value. Everybody loves a bargain.
- Free walking tour – With so much to see in London it can be quite easy to miss something out. Especially when some of the best bits are those that aren’t easy to find. Of course the best way to get an idea of the city is to take a tour. But these can tend to err on the side of pricey. Especially if you’re looking to pay for a few members of your group.
There is a way around that, you can take a free walking tour of the city with a company such as New Europe. These guys offer free tours around most European capitals, London included. Now you know what they say: there’s no such thing as a free lunch. So this does come with a catch. Each tour guide pays the company to take you on a tour. At the end, the guide will ask for a tip. If you’ve enjoyed the tour then why shouldn’t you cough up? The rate used to be £3 per tourist. If you give more than that the guide is making a profit.
- Cheap Drinks – So you’ve had a tiring day, you’ve checked out the museums, walked along the Serpentine in Hyde Park, taken a tour, caught a show, now all you need is something to sate your thirst.
Ok not quite, but not far off. There are a few pubs dotted around Central London that offer cheap drinks. Sam Smith Pubs is one such brewery. The pub offers Sam Smiths branded everything (crisps, spirits, beers and ales) and plays no music. This keeps the overheads down which can be passed on to you, the savvy traveller. You may expect from the lack of music an atmosphere that’s flat and quite possibly the beer too. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. The cheap drinks menu keeps the pub rowdy until closing time, a firmly enforced 11pm. It is this writer’s belief that you can tell a true Londoner by how quickly they can work out where the nearest Sam Smith’s is from any location in Central.
Top tip: For a lively atmosphere try The Chandos just off Trafalgar Square, for a stunningly historic building try the Cittie of Yorke on High Holborn.
So there you have it we have covered pretty well every aspect of tourist London, and shown you smart ways you can bypass the hefty price tag. All that’s left is somewhere to stay. Now, where could that be? Well, easyHotel of course. The super budget hotel brand offers rooms around the city at a fraction of the price that you’d usually expect.
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